With your inbound marketing strategy in mind, it may be time to take a look at your web design. Whether you are making over an existing website or starting a brand new one, realise that there is more to web design than aesthetics. The content matters more than the design, and most of your prospects would agree.
As you redesign your website, keep your goal in mind: increasing your number of visitors and leads, not just creating an interesting look. Think about your goals and take them into consideration every step of the way. Worry less about what colour the background is and more about how each and every aspect of your website has the potential to impact your overall success.
Adding Content – Continually
Statistically speaking, the more content you have, the more visitors your website will attract, and the faster your business will grow. And recently updated content is even better for SEO. So figure out ways to continually add fresh content, such as a blog.
Including The Right Elements
Speaking of a blog, your website really should have one. A blog makes it easy to add content on an ongoing basis, and helps you develop relationships with your customers. RSS makes it easier for others to stay up to speed on your website’s changes and updates. SEO gets you the right traffic, and well-designed landing pages are essential to converting that traffic. All modern websites need, at a minimum, these elements.
Protecting Your Assets
Avoid the pitfalls of web redesign by knowing what your assets are and keeping them intact. If you do outsource your web design, work closely with the designer to make sure the new design does not impact your marketing results in a negative way. Your most valuable website features, such as content, SEO, and conversion tools, should be carefully protected during a redesign. Web designers are great at what they do, but remember that their expertise is in design – not marketing. And stay away from the usual suspects: industry jargon, complicated animations, long walls of text, and too many images which may slow down load time (which search engines take into consideration).
Making Your Website Stand Out
Making content a higher priority than design does not mean making your website forgettable. Make sure your logo is recognizable, your tagline is descriptive and simple, and your colour scheme and graphics are contemporary. Use photos, bios, and testimonials to identify yourself and help users connect – with you and with each other. Give your visitors a memorable experience with engaging images, text, and prominent calls to action. This is where a good web designer can really shine – you know what your content should include; they know how to incorporate it in a stylish, user-friendly way.
Your website is the front door of your business, determining whether people enter and engage with you, ultimately becoming customers, or whether they leave immediately. To encourage visitors to become customers, you should avoid these common website mistakes. They are presented roughly in order of importance.
Failing to target
You have a target audience in mind for your products or services. The website should be designed with that audience’s preferences in mind. What devices will your target audience use to view your website? If most of your target market is using a mobile device, failing to provide a streamlined, fast-loading, mobile-friendly design will turn them away. Similarly, if your target market is the aging population, failing to use high-contrast colours and larger fonts may dissuade them from becoming customers.
It’s not only aging visitors who may have difficulty reading your website. Depending on the browser and hardware being used, your carefully selected colour choices for background and font may default to colours that are much more difficult to read. The background text colour may not display, showing your text directly over your background image, making it difficult to see. Words that are graphics may fail to load, or not be read by screen readers. If you use customized colours for links or visited links, make sure that the text will still display even if the browser is set to override your colour choices with the standard ones.
Improper call to action
There are two ways to go wrong with a call to action. The first is simply to not include one. Every page of your website should have a specific call to action that takes the visitor where you want them to go within your website. If the ultimate destination is obscure, consider a popup hint window that tells people how to reach that part of your website. The other way calls to action can go wrong is to make them too strong, too early. For example, a call to action that is too early is a website design that requires people to register for your email newsletter before they can read any of the articles on your website. The visitors have not yet determined whether your information is of any use to them, and will reject your call to action.
Excessive third party approvals
If your website handles sales transactions, you’ll want to include a third party approval badge indicating that the transaction is a safe one. If your goods or services have been featured in major media, or have won industry awards, you’ll want to mention that. However, if you have ten or twenty third party approvals, you’ll appear as if you’re trying too hard to convince the visitor of your legitimacy. Pick no more than three to feature on your website, and put the rest on an awards page that visitors can look at if they are interested.
Internet marketers love using WordPress web sites. There are a huge number of themes already designed to allow you to sell your goods and services or monetise your blog from ads or sponsorships. You can customise and update your site without needing to know any programming whatsoever. You can easily find plug-ins to perform any function you desire, from including a customer forum to integrating with a shopping cart. However, the flip side of this popularity and common underlying structure means that the sites are vulnerable to hackers in a way that individually developed sites are not. The following tips will make your site more difficult to hack, so hackers are more likely to look elsewhere.
Tip #1: Rename the admin account
In order to hack a site, hackers need to know both a userid and a password. If they can guess the userid, they can use brute force to find the password. The obvious guess for a userid is “admin”, the default userid that comes with a WordPress installation. To fix this, from your dashboard, select Users and add a new administrative user. Log off, log back in as the new user, and delete the admin userid. If you like having your posts labelled as from admin, you can change the display name of your new userid to admin.
Tip #2: Use a difficult password
As mentioned under the previous tip, the userid is only half of the information needed by hackers. The other half is the password. If you use a simple password, such as 1234567, or a word that can be found in the dictionary, their automated programs can easily discover it. Similarly, the password should not be anything that someone can guess based on your social media posts. For example, if you talk about your dog a lot, don’t use your dog’s name as your password.
Tip #3: Limit logon attempts
One of the best ways to prevent someone from guessing your password using the brute force method is to limit the number of logon attempts before the account is locked. The plugin to accomplish this is called Limit Login Attempts. To install it, from your dashboard, select Plugins, and search for Limit Login Attempts. Click on Install, and once it has been installed, click on Activate.
Tip #4: Don’t advertise that it is a WordPress site
Get rid of the “Powered by WordPress” usually found in the footer of the site, as well as the Meta links to log on to the site. This will remove the visual signals that the site can be hacked as a WordPress site, preventing casual hacking, although the underlying WordPress structure will still show up if hackers are crawling your site with robots.
Tip #5: Stay current
All of your plugins as well as the theme you use and the WordPress software itself are frequently updated when security violations become known. WordPress notifies you of updates automatically every time you log in, which can be installed with a single click. Remember to back up your files prior to updating.
At this time of year, many people are putting large amounts of energy into cleaning and tidying their homes, getting ready to receive guests. But how much attention has your business given to receiving guests to your web site? Your web site should make it easy for visitors to find three crucial pieces of information about your business – your unique selling proposition, your niche knowledge, and your track record.
Unique selling proposition
Your business is not the same as other businesses. Whether it is the attitude you bring, your particular blend of past experience, or simply the types of jobs you take on, there is something about your business that makes you unique. Your web site should showcase this aspect of your business so that it is clearly visible to the potential customer.
Consider plumbers. One might stress that they have been in business longer than anyone else in that particular city, another might stress that they have 24×7 response teams for plumbing emergencies, another might stress that they quote prices by the job rather than the hour so there are no surprises, and yet another might stress that they use the newest high-tech tools for diagnosing potential plumbing issues before they become expensive problems. These are all the ways in which those particular companies are unique, and which will shape the rest of how their websites are presented.
Some companies are generalists, but most companies have one or more niches in which they have developed more than just a surface level of skill. That niche knowledge makes the company more appealing to other businesses in that niche, who feel that the company will understand the details of their industry already, and be able to focus on what makes their business unique and different within that industry.
This also allows you to refine which areas you would prefer to work in. You may have done work with a car dealership, and developed significant knowledge of the new and used car industry. However, while doing that work, you may have determined that you do not want additional work in that industry. By specifically defining the niches in which you have knowledge and experience for your potential customers, you encourage businesses in the industries in which you want to continue working, and discourage businesses in the industries in which you don’t want to continue working.
Finally, you should include your track record on your website. This can be a list of satisfied customers, before-and-after photographs of successful jobs, a page of customer testimonials, or some combination of all three. The point is to show prospective customers that you have done something similar to the job they are considering you for, and done it well.
If you have ever visited a website and had to sit and wait for the homepage to load, you know the frustration it can cause. In fact, you may have even left the site and went elsewhere. If your site stats show you have traffic, but you are not having success with conversions, you may have a load time issue. You need to look at your site carefully and with the eyes of an outsider. If you have to sit and wait, even a mere 20 seconds, do you honestly think your visitors are going to wait?
I know that in my own experience, if I have to wait on a site to load, I am going to go somewhere else. Technology has made fast access to websites and expectation, not a luxury. We want to click our mouse and be on our way shopping or researching. If your site does not load fast, you may have statistical evidence of traffic but no conversions.
Before going into the ways you can speed up the loading process, you should know that you have to optimise your web page for loading at 56K, not just high-speed Internet connections. High speed connections are not available to everyone. You do not want to lose sales just because you ignored the sector of Internet users with a 56K connection.
It is not difficult to make your site load faster, and any webmaster can help you accomplish this quite easily. There are some factors that are going to be site specific, such as a shopping site that is mainly a database versus a photography shop where graphics are the main factor. However, you can optimise some of the common features that may be slowing your website down, regardless of the type of site.
First, graphics are necessary to attract your visitors’ attention. However, too many graphics or graphics that have not been optimised for use on the web can cause slow loading times. Take a look at your site and make sure you do not have it overloaded with images. Ask your web designer to make sure your images are properly sized for web use.
Next, if your page uses tables, make sure they are broken up into smaller tables. Large tables can be slow to download.
Finally, if you use multimedia on your homepage, is it truly worth it? Are you keeping visitors’ attention with the multimedia or do you like it and want it there? If it is not attracting and keeping the attention of visitors, you might want to consider removing it. It has been shown that almost half of all website visitors either skip multimedia or close out of the page and go to another site. Are pretty bells and whistles worth losing that much traffic?
It is not hard to maximise the traffic you your website and convert it to revenue. Your first step is keeping the visitors to your site. Analyse your website and make the necessary changes to increase your rate of retention. You will be amazed at the difference a faster loading web page makes.
If you have already dealt with slow loading web pages and made changes that worked for you, share your tips with us using the comment box.
Small business owners face numerous challenges. In short, you must do it all: manage employees, serve customers, deal with suppliers, pay the bills on time, and you have to do all of that with a smile on your face.
On top of everything you must have a beautiful, fully functioning website. Most small businesses can’t afford to hire an expensive web development company. Some aspects of your website are more important that others. Below is a checklist of areas where you should concentrate your effort in order to have a successful online presence.
When a visitor arrives at your website, her or she should meet with seamless process for making their way around and locating what they want. It’s standard for navigation links to run across the top of the screen and for there to be a search box. In naming your links, don’t try to be clever. Use standard terms, such as “About,” “Products,” and “Cart.”
There are two ways that you will establish contact with your customers through your website: a contact form and your contact page. A contact form will allow a visitor to enter his or her name and contact information (don’t ask for personal information, such as birthdates) and submit it to you, which then allows you to get in touch with them via text or email. This is an invaluable marketing tool. Add it to your site and you’ll be glad you did. Also, be sure that your own contact information is easy for visitors to find on your site. Typically, the contact link appears at the top-right of the home page and at the bottom of every page, and the link takes visitors directly to a page that provides this information.
Pay special attention to developing a good “About” page. First-time visitors often go there to learn more about a company, and if your “About” page is lacking, you may lose out on a valuable customer. At a minimum, this page should include your background, your credentials, one or more photos, and a few details about what makes your business unique. This is your chance to introduce yourself, so make the most of it.
Online shoppers pay a great deal of attention to what other people who have bought a product they’re interested in say about the product. Honest feedback from previous customers is an invaluable resource in your online marketing efforts. Make it easy for your customers to provide feedback and solicit feedback from satisfied customers by sending them an email request with a link to the feedback form.
Of course, you want a website that looks good and functions well, too, but it’s important to at least have the basics covered. By paying attention to these four simple areas, you will help your website to flourish and you’ll ensure that your online presence reflects your business goals. Do you have a website success story? Share it in the comments section.
A website is the central hub of activity for your business. The majority of your marketing efforts are done in order to drive customers and potential customers to your website. The design of your website is extremely important. It is the digital representation of you, your business and the overall mission of your business. When individuals come to your website they want a few specific things. They want to find the specific information they are searching for to be found easily. They also want a clear call to action. Before you update your website, or even have your website initially built, it is important to avoid some common errors. These errors can cost business dollars if they are not avoided.
Your Website Shouldn’t Sing
When a person lands on your website are their ears overwhelmed by music that starts to play the instant the site opens up? There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find the volume control for your computer to stop the annoying music from blasting out of our computer. The truth is that when someone lands on your site and they hear immediate music, they will be clicking off your site quicker than you can blink. Great rule of thumb is to keep your site as a visual experience and leave the music for your iPod.
Direct Call To Action
Where do you want to drive your visitors? Are your products and services that are for sale clearly marked? Sites that are difficult to navigate will annoy 100% of those that visit your site. Your site may be the most visually exciting site in the world, but if you don’t tell your visitors where to go, you are left with a site that looks good but isn’t functional. Clearly mark on your website how to contact you and where products and services can be purchased.
Text Size & Color
I know you want to cram as much information as possible onto your website, but remember that less is more. Your visitors don’t want to spend hours reading your site. They have come to your site with a specific question or problem that needs to be addressed. Make it easy for them to see and find what they are looking for. Using a unique font, a smaller font size and a creative color for your font makes it difficult to read and navigate your site. Keep it simple. Use a standard font, in a standard color that is in a font size that is easy to read.
Creating a great website can be a costly investment for any business owner. If you have taken the time and energy, not to mention your hard earned money to create a great site, make sure you avoid the mistakes listed above. You want to keep your visitors on your site, not drive them away before they even get a chance to find what they were seeking.
Successful internet marketing is all about adding value. Adding value for your readers, your followers, your customers, whoever. It’s not enough to simply tell people that you product is out there. So much can be had for free on the internet these days that you need to first offer something to your customers to draw them in (value!) and then make them a sales offer.
Of course, landing pages are no different.
But, too often when the conversation turns to landing pages marketers’ thoughts turn immediately to conversion rates and analytics. While the main purpose of the landing page is, of course, to move people farther into the sales funnel, it doesn’t mean that it can’t also add value.
And how do you add value to the landing page? The same way that you add value to any other page. With great content. Read on for some of the best ways to improve your landing page.
Speak in Terms of Value
Think about the typical person reading your landing page. They are already interested in your product. You know that. They’ve indicated their interest by clicking on your advertisement, or searching for your site. So you don’t need to sell them on generalities of your product. They’re already in the market. You need to sell them on why your product is better than everybody else’s.
Do this by using value-driven language which clearly and explicitly emphasizes the strengths of your product. Never focus on the weaknesses of your competitors’ products.
Use language such as “Increase site ranking,” “Double your monthly page views,” and “market leadership guaranteed” in order to drive home the point that your product is the best on the market, and that users of your product stand to benefit dramatically by using it.
Use Customer Testimonials
Customer testimonials can look outdated when they’re placed in print or static advertisements, but they’re the perfect fit for your landing page. As mentioned above, people who come to your landing page are already interested in buying. They’re already in the market. They’re just trying to determine who is offering the highest quality product at the lowest price.
Which is why it’s a great place to offer testimonials. Reach out to some of your best customers, and ask them to write a quick review of your product, or to give you a phrase that you can use as a testimonial. This will help you convince potential customers what you and your customers already know – that you’re offering the best product on the market.
One of the first lessons that I learned as a young internet marketer was that 9 times out of 10, your customers do not want to be using your website. They would rather be on the beach, or at the pub, or watching the football. But they’re using your site because they think it has some information that they need.
With that in mind, the best user experience is the simplest and most intuitive experience. By optimising your website and making its design more intuitive, you will improve the experience of your customers. They will respond by spending more time on your site, building a better relationship with you, and ultimately purchasing more of your products and services.
First Impressions Count
As with everything else in life, your first impression typically matter more than the rest of the relationship taken together. The two impressions that you want to immediately convey to your customers is that you are reputable and professional, and that they will be able to quickly and painlessly find the information that they are looking for. The ways to convey this are through an intelligently designed site layout, and through an intuitive navigation system, respectively.
Site Layout Conveys Professionalism
Site layout refers to the physical appearance of your website. Where are different pieces of the site located, how do you use colours and fonts, and what is your use of images like. As a general rule, avoid anything that is not strictly necessary. Too many colours or fonts makes your website looks less like the public face of a professional business, and more like a yard sale flyer.
Think about the most successful websites, like Google, Facebook, or Wikipedia. In all cases, they just use two or three main colours, and keep the site clean and easy to read.
In no case, should you ever use music or animation on your site. This is a business website, not a teenager’s blog from the 1990’s.
Intuitive Navigation Gets Your Customers Where They Want to Go
Imaging a supermarket which could instantly transport you to whatever you wanted to buy as soon as you walked in the door. Chances are, you would do quite a lot of your shopping at that supermarket. Make you website do the same.
Label all the different sections of your website, and list them in tabs along the top or the left-hand site of the site. If your customers can spend less time on your site while still finding all the information that they need, then you’ve done your job properly.
The holidays are a time when many people spend a bit more than they should. The joy of gift giving during the Christmas season makes people dig a little deeper when shopping. Physical store locations create beautiful window displays that capitalize on the season. Online sellers should do to same. Integrating Christmas imagery in your existing sales website can help you to increase your sales this holiday season. There are several different ways to add a Christmas feel to your site, and you should employ them all.
Change the overall theme – most websites are designed so that certain elements remain the same from page to page. This is referred to as the theme of the site. Change the theme to reflect a holiday spirit, to get shoppers in the right frame of mind. Christmas imagery like decorations, wrapped presents, holiday lights or a Christmas tree are all possible examples.
Place sale items in the forefront – make sure to highlight your sale items and include information about their potential as gifts. Draw a strong connection between your sale items and holiday giving.
Colour scheme is crucial – any other time of the year, a subdued colour palate can be used to create a feeling of warmth, but for Christmas, bright colours act as an attraction. You do not need to stick with traditional red and green, but bright colours that compliment each other are a must.
Create a Christmas logo – while all of your products should be sold under your regular logo, a special holiday design can capture imaginations. Many large retailers use a different holiday exclusive design each year. Stay on top of trends and find something that tickles the funny bone or warms the heart of the average consumer.
Offer services specific to the holiday – including services like gift wrapping and drop shipping are a solid choice as part of your holiday campaign. Include vivid advertisements that demonstrate the ease of shopping on your site. Let consumers know that your site is truly a one stop shopping location.
These strategies can help to boost final quarter sales by encouraging additional holiday spending. Giving consumers a visual reminder of the season and using subtle reinforcement like the overall colour scheme and logo design will help put them in the shopping mood. You can not give them the opportunity to hold a product prior to purchase, but you can give them a festive atmosphere in which to shop. Thoughtful use of animations is a great addition to any holiday website, and paying attention to the hot gifts of the season will help you to determine the best items to put up for sale.